Friday, February 18, 2005
On this day:

U.S. Policy on North Korea - Playing the China Card

China plays a pivotal role in the effort to persuade North Korea to abandon its policy of nuclear blackmail. However, North Korea's "we have nukes" announcement last week and its refusal to return to the six-nation talks illustrate that China has been either unable or unwilling to pressure North Korea into cooperating.

Given all of that, I guess it's not surprising that there was a notable shift in tone in the administration's China policy this week. First, CIA Director Porter Goss delivered a threat assessment to a Senate Committee that deemphasized areas of cooperation between China and the U.S., focusing almost exclusively on the growing Chinese military threat. Later in the week, the Washington Post reported that for the first time, the U.S. and Japan are set to declare that Taiwan is a "mutual security concern," thereby "laying the groundwork" for Japanese assistance in the event of Chinese military action against Taiwan. For the Chinese, the prospect of a more assertive Japan could be just what is needed to get the them to play ball on the North Korean standoff. Let's hope it works.